Sunday Schools today need five basic things to be successful: prayer, interaction with the Bible, encouragement for students to ask questions, a way to respond to the lesson and homework.
As a Sunday School teacher, you hold one of the most important ministries within the church. What a privilege it is to serve the children and their parents each week. It is fair to say, that privilege does not come without a lot of hard work. It is your role to review your lesson plans and make sure that you are prepared to teach each week.
At Grapevine Studies, we understand most of you are volunteering your precious time by investing in the children in your church. Each week you spend valuable time praying, planning lessons, and teaching. You only get so much time to impact the next generation in the classroom and we want you to succeed. We have created a list of 5 things you can do to make sure you are covering the basics in your classroom.
Prayer: it seems so easy, but often we struggle to pray in Sunday School with our students. If you are teaching in a Sunday School setting, the only time some children pray is at church. For these children, is important to include prayer every time you meet to help them learn to pray and begin to feel comfortable praying.
Model how to pray in class. As teachers, our students should hear us pray in class but also with them if they come to us with a prayer request. As often as you can, pray with and over your students.
Identifying answers to prayer is important for your students to learn. Helping them understand that the answer is not always what we want. An answer may be
Yes – No – Wait
Prayer within class, spoken aloud, should always be optional but never mandatory. As a teacher, I have had students who were outgoing and loved to pray aloud for our class but others who were mortified if I asked them to pray. As the year went along, as those students who were scared to pray aloud, became comfortable with each other and with praying aloud, they would then volunteer to pray.
As Teachers, we need to set aside time to pray for our class each week, including praying for:
With the foundation of prayer set, we move to the Bible study portion of class.
Children learn best when they can hear, see, and interact with the lesson. This is why our method at Grapevine will have children hear/read from the Bible in each lesson. After the reading, teachers discuss the passage to summarize and discuss the verses. This often leads to questions that the children have about the Bible.
At Grapevine, we believe every child can learn the Bible at their level and as teachers we have many tools available to help us teach them.
When we only hear information, we retain a small portion of what was heard, but when we hear, see, and do our retention skyrockets! Each Bible class should have a way for students to interact with the Bible, by hearing, seeing, and doing.
With the Grapevine method of teaching, we read a passage and then have students ‘stick figure’ the passage as a means of interaction. This helps students take in the information and translate it into drawings, which embeds the information in their memories.
You can also do:
After a student has an understanding of the passage and is old enough, you can move to the next step, asking questions of a biblical passage.
3. How to ask Questions of the Bible Passage during Sunday School
Encourage your students to ask questions of the passage you are reading. You can teach them the inductive Bible study skill of questions using the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How method.
By teaching them how to ask questions, we encourage them to find the answers.
My husband has run into countless men in the oil field who attended church as a child but quit because their questions were not taken seriously nor answered. So, as teachers, encourage questions and take time to answer them. If you are like me and don’t always know the answer, you can always tell them, “let’s find out together” or “let me look that up and get back to you”.
Asking questions leads us to a point of responding to what we have learned.
Provide students with time and a means to respond to a lesson. This may be as simple as a prayer time at the end of class.
Lord, we have all been like the men of Noah’s day who disobeyed you, but we want to be like Noah who obeyed you. Forgive me of being disobedient to You. Help me this next week to do what is right and to obey your Word.
Other response ideas
It is easy to hurry children out the door of our class and on to the next church event, but when we allow the Holy Spirit time, He will change us.
The lesson does not need to end with a final classroom prayer, but can extend through the week when we provide “homework” options.
Each class should include some kind of “homework” so that the lesson continues through the week and not just a few minutes on Sunday morning.
Homework can be:
I recommend teachers find a way to touch base with their students through the week to encourage them in their homework; email, social media, or a text is a great way to inspire your students during the week.
If you are a Sunday School teacher, Thank You! You are making an impact and the efforts you put in are appreciated by the parents and other members of your church!